Many of you grew up hearing your parents. You heard your Mom and Dad, your teachers, and your boss. However there is a big difference between hearing and listening. The best relationships are comprised of two good listeners. Hearing is a passive stance – similar to walking in the store and hearing the ambient noise and conversations in the background. Yet listening is when your focus and attention is placed solely on the individual or object that is communicating the message. Your body and face and turned towards that person and you are paying attention to what they are trying to communicate.
The very nature of listening is active. To listen to someone means that you understand another person’s perspective and emotions. To understand their perspective means that you understand the thinking, reasoning, feelings and choices which led up to their current state. If you don’t understand their emotions, then you’ve failed to listen. But then there’s another step. You need to let the other person know that you understand them. Otherwise you’re just “hearing” them.
We live in a society where many hear, but fail to listen. It’s evident in the rush to produce and perform, yet the lack of patience and peace. The allure of instant gratification and quick-fixes are a facade to the deeper longings of the heart that only those who are seasoned and secure in their walk with Him understand.
A teacher is paid to teach. The measure of a teacher’s effectiveness is not based on how fancy their power point presentations are nor how great they can speak. A teacher is paid to impart information and instill it within your child. A teacher’s effectiveness is based on how well their students understand and apply the material.
You might be a very dynamic, smart, intuitive person who “get’s it”, however, unless there is a transfer of information within your relationship, then no “relating” has occurred. The other person won’t have any awareness of what’s going on inside of you if you don’t open up and share. There are many people who are good at hearing, but they don’t know how to convey that they understand the other person.
To often we underestimate the power of touch,
A smile, a kind word, a listening ear,
an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring,
all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” Leo Buscaglia
This is a common dynamic between husbands and wives. A husband can talk about how much he loves his wife, and while doing so he could become emotional. Yet the wife is surprised to see this from her husband because she has not felt like he “get’s her.” It’s because listening requires you to be present, silent, and attentive.
“Any problem, big or small, within a family always seems to start with bad communication. Someone isn’t listening.” Emma Thompson
One of the most sincere forms of respect is silencing yourself and listening to the heart of another. If you do so you will find that your relationships with your spouse, family and friends will benefit and grow when you become a better listener.
When you begin each day by listening to God, then you’ll find your heart will be filled with His love to listen with patience, kindness and grace to others.